Public realm scheme cuts Larne’s parking spaces

Larne town centre. INLT-23-702-con
Larne town centre. INLT-23-702-con

Some traders and drivers say that the reduction in town centre car park space has hit trade and is discouraging shoppers from using the area.

The total number of parking spaces in the town centre area has been reduced by seven due to the public realm scheme, equivalent to 6.5 per cent of the total spaces available before work started.

Last week, the Times saw several cars park in the loading bay outside Woodside’s.

One driver said: “My only option is to park here and risk a fine. I have a disabled child and Ihave to come down to the pharmacy a lot but parking is a nuisance.

“I can’t take my disabled child out of the car easily, epsecially when she is ill, so I want to park nearby so I can keep an eye on her. I would avoid the town centre, but when my daughter is ill i have no choice.

Another resident told the Times: “The council says the public realm scheme is going to get people into Larne, but people are avoiding the town as parking is horrendous. I would rather go to an out-of-town store.”

Butcher Owen Donnelly said his trade had fallen 30 per cent since Christmas, which he believes is largely due to the public realm scheme.

“I won’t condemn the public realm scheme but it doesn’t help,” he stated.

“our customers are complaining about not being able to park outside, and it has impacted on passing trade. It is especially difficult for old people.”

NI Hospice charity shop manager Michelle Wilson said that there had been a drop in donations since parking spaces were removed.

“We have lost a parking space outside our shop where people used to be able to drop stuff off” she explained.

“People are parking in the loading bays and abandoning their cars, but that means our delivery van can’t park in there.”

However, co-owner of Ann’s Pantry Helen Porter said her customers were happy to use the other car parks.

“My older customers would come in early to avoid the traffic, and the car parks are only £1 for five hours,” she said.

“The pavement has been built up and chairs set out by other cafes, which creates a cafe culture feel. It looks lovely and when we get the trees and benches it will be fabulous.”

A Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spokesperson stated: “A total of 101 spaces remain available; this includes disabled spaces which have not been reduced.

“The new layout, which was subject to public consultation, has created safer crossing points for pedestrians as well as providing space for trees and seating along Main Street.

“In addition there has been no change to bus stops, loading bays and the taxi rank.

“There will be no change to the number of disabled spaces and loading bays at Broadway.”